Delegates closed out an NCAA convention of reform today by imposing considerably stronger recruiting controls over boosters, coaches and athletes. Five proposals were passed aimed at curbing abuses, one of which prohibits boosters from recruiting off campus, a step some consider highly significant and others highly unenforceable.
In addition, athletes who knowingly cheat may lose their eligibility; a booster, coach or player can be penalized for withholding pertinent information during an investigation; new coaching contracts require a clause that would make proven cheaters liable to suspension or firing, and extra benefits were defined.
"That's quite an attack upon those who desire to violate NCAA rules," said Walter Byers, NCAA executive director, at a press conference.
Most of the presidents and chancellors among a record 1,398 delegates had gone home today, but the recruiting issue was just as important, if not as emotional, as Wednesday's issues, and Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach, implored of some sleepy delegates:
"Yesterday we made a move to eliminate some of the academic abuses; now we have to clean up some of the messes we've made in recruiting."
A few, including Byers, expected the suspension/firing clause to be passed because of legal problems. It passed easily after Paterno said, "The coaches of our country do not want the cheaters to be part of our profession . . . but we don't have a professional group to ostracize people."
Citing the legal and other problems, Benson Wilcox, faculty representative at North Carolina, said from the floor: "This is the least we can do, but it also is the most we can do."
The mood was so intent at reform and improving image that a proposal to forbid basketball coaches to attend camps sponsored or conducted by a person who provides scouting or recruiting services was passed with little fanfare.
At day's end, Dave Berst, NCAA director of enforcement, said: "I feel good about the support for controls on recruiting abuses." He called his staff's new power in the area of ethical conduct "a tool that can be used in every serious infractions case we've heard."
Tuesday's passage of a rule requiring in 1986 initial eligibility based on a minimum test score and 2.0 average on core curriculum of 11 academic courses in high school was still causing controversy today. Leaders of the 16 historically black schools in Division I had called the NCAA a racist organization after Tuesday's overwhelming vote in favor of the proposal.
Another proposal passed that day also set standards for progress in a degree program, giving the athlete incentive to study to get into college and coaches incentive to make sure he stays eligible and proceeds toward a degree.
In addition, the convention passed a proposal that requires the use of NCAA playing rules during the regular season in football and basketball, effective Aug. 1. It means whatever rules are chosen by the baskeball rules committee must be observed in all regular season games.